Late-Summer from an Urban Oasis

While much of Turtle Island (the nation) is severely affected by one of the worst droughts and prolonged highest temperatures in recorded meteorological history, in the southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, it’s been a season of adequate to copious amounts of rainfall, as well as prolonged 100% humidity days.

Cope's Grey Treefrog males calling

This has been hard for our home economy, especially regarding my season for broom making in preparation for the Southern Highland Craft Guild show in October, in which I will show and sell my brooms.

Prior to weaving the broom corn (sorghum) to the handles, they must be soaked for an hour in hot water. Once woven, they need 2 full days of sun for complete drying, prior to being pressed and sewn into the classic broom shape.

Freshly Woven Brooms Drying in the Sun

The high humidity allowed very little evaporation, and with moisture events  every day or so, the tightly compacted broom heads remained moist and began to mold.

This doubles my work, for I must spend a fair amount of time with each broom, spraying it with a water/bleach solution, then dry it further.

At this moment, our living room is full of partially completed brooms, resting against the couch, under the breezy spell of a whirling fan, awaiting a low humidity, sunny day or two, in order to completely dry.

Fan Drying Brooms: Mold Preventative

Much of the summer I have been unable to work on the brooms.

With all the moisture and humidity, mosquitoes are abominable! Since Barefoot Permaculture is heavily vegetated, besides being an Urban Oasis, it also creates much mosquito habitat.

Any of the frequent times I venture into the garden orchard, swarms of small, light colored, fast moving mosquitoes rise all around me, trying to find blood from any exposed skin.

Holding a berry bucket in one hand, reaching the other deep into a blackberry thicket or blueberry bush for a most desirable specimen, seem to be a good time for a loudly whining blood sucker to intuit the coast is clear, and fly onto my face in search of a fountain of youth.

Shiitake Galore!

Mid and late summer harvests are abundant: several varieties of heritage tomatoes (from saved seed); two flushes of Shiitake mushrooms; sweet, red Carmen peppers (the only hybrid plants we bring in); red, ripe Jalapenos; Blue Hopi Corn (for grinding into meal); late lettuces; nettles, long Oriental eggplant; red noodle beans; several varieties of still growing, heritage winter squash (saved seeds); and Black-Eyed Peas.

Yummy Harvest!

Chiwa Not Waiting for the Kitchen

One issue in being an urban oasis: the accumulated food sources are a niche that nature takes advantage of. Birds, squirrels, raccoons, possums, groundhogs, and occasional bears are attracted to the rich bounty, and can wreck havoc upon ones’ fruit dreams.

Birds devastated the un-netted berries: wineberries, raspberries, blackberries, and most sadly, elderberries. With all but the elderberries, we were able to pick enough to feel satisfied. Of the elderberries, we were hoping to have enough to make some medicinal syrups to see us healthily through the winter season: the catbirds though, had other plans, and devoured them while still unripe.

Some squirrels decimated our usually abundant Moonglow pear, until nature took advantage of the abundant squirrels and greatly lessened their numbers.

Many of our apples are heavily loaded with fruit, in spite of 3 thinnings. Three trees had to be pulled and held upright by ropes: several others are balanced and standing on their own.

Our most abundant apple trees, Goldrush (our very favorite apple) which, fortunately, we can grow organically, are heavily laden and not ripe until the first week of November. Until then, much can happen.

Goodhearts’ Orchard Rule #11 (as noted in the previous posting) tells us not to “count” the harvest until its in the basket.

Still, I am licking my lips and beginning to salivate…

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About goodheart

Education: Warren Wilson College (BA Environmental Studies) 1987: University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (MSc. Natural Resources) 2005 Permaculture Design Certificate (The Farm, TN) 1994 Presidential Volunteer Award: 2005, 2006, 2007 Experiences: National and international Permaculture teacher and practitioner since 1995; Sustainable land use and permaculture consultant; International consultant for small plot sustainable agriultural projects; Home orchard consultant; Endangered species observer for sea-turtle and whale projects; Field biologist and naturalist; Gourmet natural food chef and teacher; Home baker (artisan breads) brewer & fermenter; Home orchardist; BeeKeeper; Ecological gardener; Broom-maker in the Southern Highland Craft Guild, and general bio-philiac...
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